Student activism has led Stanford‘s Board of Trustees to vote to stop investing in coal-mining companies. This action is a significant step in the ever-growing fossil fuel divesment movement on campuses across the country.
In the growingly visible national conversation on sexual assault on college campuses, including a recently launched campaign by the White House to confront the issue, many local movements have been getting increasing attention.
Unless you shut yourself off from the world this past week, you probably read, or at least heard mention of, The Atlantic’s feature story on fraternities and their dangers, which highlighted Wesleyan University and Beta Theta Pi. The article explores the role of fraternities on campuses, especially in the crafting of party culture and the rise of sexual assault. The article is long, but well worth the read, and has reopened space for dialogue on these issues.
NOTE FROM BZOD: About a month and a half ago, we posted a piece by Cesar Chavez ’15 in which he translated a letter from the custodial staff to President Roth in which custodial staff decried their unreasonable working conditions. That letter was part 1 of 2. This letter, written by Cesar, focuses on the invisibility of poverty at Wesleyan. With that, Cesar’s post:
My name is Cesar Chavez, poor Hispanic male, age 19. I am writing this because as a poor student I can no longer stand and see how I, along with other students, am brought into a cycle of perpetual poverty by this university. It is unfair that this university has the audacity to state that there is no money for poor students and that it forces us to take loans in order to obtain a degree that in the future will become a worthless piece of paper. Likewise, I want to break the silence around the issue of poverty. By not talking about the issue, we allow this injustice to continue. I also would like to direct this critique to poor students currently at Wesleyan. If you are reading this, I encourage you to speak up. I know the frustration and anger that you are all probably experiencing. Do not keep it inside yourselves. Make your voices heard.
Our custodians are not the only ones who have been alienated, marginalized, and oppressed at Wesleyan. Poor student have suffered these ailments as well. I, along with many other students, am a victim of indentured servitude that comes in the form of student debt. I am a poor student going to this “elite” institution so that I can pursue my academic goals and be a member of a productive society. But in my opinion, many people aren’t going to college to learn anymore; people attend college so they can land a decent job. Likewise, we live in a time when a bachelor’s degree won’t get you too far. Because we live in a global capitalist economy dominated by a global plutocracy, students in the United States have to compete even harder for jobs with students from other countries like India and China. In order to stay competitive, one needs to obtain a Masters or PhD. As a result the college and school cultures have changed in recent years to accommodate the growing corporatization. More emphasis is placed on standardized tests, corporate careers, competition, and raising tuition. Now, few people seem to have desire to learn anymore. They simply want to walk in, pass tests, get the career networks they need, walk out and land a decent job. All of this has shown me that higher education is dying and makes me question, “Why am I even bothering with college?”
For those of you in our audience not planning on working on Wall Street after graduation, there’s a good chance you’re footing the bill for a good amount of student loans (hooray for the free market!).
To call attention to this unfortunate reality, Wesleyan Democratic Socialists are sponsoring a number of student debt related events and actions this week, including a petition-drive (find them in Usdan tomorrow! or sign it on the interwebz) requesting Sallie Mae “forgive all student debt after 5 years of payments” and “eliminate all interest on student loans” as well as a screening of Default: The Student Loan Documentary.